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Annan: Palestinians Should Support New Leadership


Annan Says Palestinians Should Support New Leadership To Achieve Statehood

Calling recent violence a setback to the Middle East peace process, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to Palestinians to support their new leader in efforts to achieve the long-sought goal of statehood.

"This is an opportunity for them to realize their dream, the aspiration for a Palestinian State," Mr. Annan said in an interview at Dubai airport, where he stopped en route to New York from a trip which had taken him to countries affected by the recent catastrophic tsunami as well as a UN conference on small islands held in Mauritius.

"I appeal to them to shy away from violence, to reject violence, support their new leader and let him work with the Israeli Government and the Palestinian people and the international community to fulfill their dreams," he said.

Earlier this month, Palestinians elected Mahmoud Abbas as President in polls which received technical and logistical support from the UN.

Mr. Annan repeated his earlier condemnation of a recent attack that killed six Israelis, calling it "a real blow to the peace process."

Following that incident, which took place on Thursday night, a spokesman for Mr. Annan had voiced hope that it would not be allowed to undermine the recent positive steps made by both parties.

Today, Mr. Annan said: "I hope it will be possible to find a way to engage both parties."

Asked about the violence in Iraq, the Secretary-General noted that the vast majority of Iraqis want to vote but "the situation is far from ideal."

The UN is working with the Government "on the assumption that, as of today, the elections will take place on 30 January" as planned, he said.

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